The Duke Blue Devils are coming off their fourth National Championship last season, and will look for their set of back-to-back championships under head coach Mike Krzyewski. Last year there weren’t a lot of high hopes for Duke, as the school hadn’t made it to the Elite 8 in the last five seasons, but slowing the pace down on offense and a team built on defense and rebounding rolled through the NCAA Tournament to beat Butler in the title game. This season the expectations are very high, as the Blue Devils return two top players in Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, and have a few talented young players ready to make a huge impact. To get a better idea of what the Blue Devils will bring to the table this season, here is a quick preview of what they will send to the court, plus my pick on where they will end the season in the ACC.
Viewing the NCAA basketball odds, the Duke Blue Devils come in heavy favorites to win the conference at -250, and are also the favorites to win it all this year at +500. If you are searching for a great place to do your NCAA basketball betting this season, now is the perfect time to get an account and deposit at Sports Interaction. Simply take the time to sign up for a new account today, and receive a 100% bonus on your initial deposit!
Backcourt: The Blue Devils only real loss is Jon Scheyer, who was the main ball handler last season, but his loss doesn’t figure to be that big of a deal, as the Blue Devils add one of the most talented young freshman in the country in Kyrie Irving, who can not only pass the ball but he can light up the scoreboard if needed. Krzyewksi has already been talking a lot about this guy’s talent, and he figures to be a great compliment to returning senior guard Nolan Smith, who put up just over 17 points a night last season. Smith is a much better player without the ball, and should benefit from a lot of open shots with Irving handling the rock. Also added to the mix will be sophomore Seth Curry, younger brother of Golden State Warriors guard Stephon Curry. Seth really impressed his teammates last year with how hard he was to defend, as he was forced to sit out last season after transferring from Liberty. With Irving expected to start immediately, Krzyewski has already talked about his intent of going away from the half court offense and running a much more fast paced offense this year.
Frontcourt: Duke returns one of the best small forwards in the country in Singler, who contributed nearly 18 points and 7 rebounds a game last year. Singler has all the tools to become the National Player of the Year this season, but he still needs to become more of a vocal leader. Singler will be joined in the front court with Miles and Mason Plumlee, as Duke must replace the inside presence of Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek. Mason has more potential, and will likely be a high draft pick next year, but both players should do better this season with the faster pace. Coming off the pine will be sophomore Ryan Kelly and freshman Josh Hairston, both of which should play a big part this year off the bench.
Prediction – 1st ACC: It appears that it will once again be a two team race for the conference title this season between Duke and the Tar Heels. North Carolina also landed a very highly talented freshman in Harrison Barnes, but I believe Duke has the much better overall team. It will be difficult for the Blue Devils to better their win total from 2009-10, but I believe this is an even better team than they had a year ago. With the return of Singler and Smith, Duke is only one of four teams that has two players who scored at least 17 points returning. Irving will be the difference maker for this team, and they have as good as chance of anybody of winning the Final Four.
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